LONDON - A coalition of human rights groups has drawn up a list of 39 terror suspects it believes are being secretly imprisoned by US authorities and published their names in a report released Thursday.
File picture shows a janitor sweeping the floor at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Six human rights groups on Thursday published a list of 39 people believed to be held in secret prisons run by the CIA, but whose whereabouts are unknown, as the United States claims the prisons are empty. [Agencies]
"What we're asking is where are these 39 people now, and what's happened to them since they 'disappeared'?" Joanne Mariner of Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said "there's a lot of myth outside government when it comes to the CIA and the fight against terror."
"The plain truth is that we act in strict accord with American law, and that our counterterror initiatives - which are subject to careful review and oversight - have been very effective in disrupting plots and saving lives," Gimigliano said. "The United States does not conduct or condone torture."
Information on the purported missing detainees was, in some cases, incomplete, the report acknowledged. Some detainees had been added to the list because Marwan Jabour, an Islamic militant who claims to have spent two years in CIA custody, remembered being shown photos of them during interrogations, it said.
Others were identified only by their first or last names, like "al-Rubaia," who was added to the list after a fellow inmate reported seeing the name scribbled onto the wall of his cell.
But information for at least 21 of the detainees had been confirmed by two or more independent sources, said Anne Fitzgerald, a senior adviser for Amnesty International.
President Bush acknowledged the existence of secret detention centers in September 2006, but said that the prisons were then empty.
Bush said 14 terrorism suspects that the CIA had been holding, including a mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, had been transferred to military custody at Guantanamo Bay for trials.
Fitzgerald said she wasn't convinced that the sites were ever emptied, and
claimed a program of secret detentions was ongoing.